Telephonic communications – Audio message storage – retrieval – or synthesis – Indication or notification of message
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to an answering machine apparatus and, more particularly, to such apparatus for use in a system having a number of telephones for providing an indication to a user that a message has been received/recorded when the user places one of the telephones in an off-hook state.
An answering machine may be operative to receive and/or record one or more messages. More specifically, such answering machine may be coupled to a telephone line and utilized in a system (which may be located in a home or office) having a number of telephones each coupled to the same telephone line. With such arrangement, a person may place a telephone call to the telephone number associated with a desired home or office whereupon the telephone or telephones within such home or office may ring so as to indicate an incoming call. If such call is not answered within a predetermined time period, the answering machine (located in such home or office) may be activated so as to enable the person placing the call to record a message thereat. The recorded message may be subsequently reproduced or played back by a user in the respective home or office.
In the above-described arrangement, upon receiving/recording a message, the answering machine may provide an indication to a user that such message has been received/recorded. Such indication may be provided by a light-type device (such as a light emitting diode (LED) or the like) or an audible alarm-type device which may be an integral part of or coupled to the answering machine. However, these two types of devices may be inconvenient to use and/or have disadvantageous features associated therewith as hereinbelow more fully described.
With regard to the light-type device, such device may emit a light of a predetermined color (such as red) or a flashing light of such predetermined color upon receiving/recording a message so as to provide an indication of such received/recorded message. With this device, a user is notified of a received/recorded message by actually viewing the light-type device. As is to be appreciated, in this situation, the user must be in close proximity to the answering machine to view the light-type device. Accordingly, in this situation, if the answering machine is located in one room or portion of the home or office, a user must proceed to such room or portion each time the user wishes to determine if a message has been received/recorded. As a result, it may be inconvenient for a user to determine if a message has been received/recorded by the answering machine.
With regard to the audible alarm-type device, such device may produce an audible sound upon receiving/recording a message so as to provide an indication of such received/recorded message. Such audible sound may continue until disengaged by a user. Although the audible alarm-type device may eliminate the need for a user to have to proceed to the room or portion of a home or office having the answering machine in order to determine if a message has been received/recorded as with the above-described light-type device, there may be several disadvantages with the audible-type device. For example, the audible sound may be annoying and, as a result, the user may be compelled to stop whatever he or she is currently doing just to disengage or terminate the annoying sound. Additionally, if the answering machine is located in a portion of the home or office which is distant from a current location of the user, the user may not be able to hear the audible sound and, as such, may be unaware of the received/recorded message.
Accordingly, it may be desirable to provide an answering machine for receiving and/or recording messages and for providing a user with an indication of a received/recorded message which avoids the above-described disadvantages.
OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
An object of the present invention is to provide an answering machine apparatus adapted to be coupled to a telephone line having a number of telephones coupled thereto for receiving and/or recording messages which enables a user to determine if a message has been received/recorded by utilizing any of such telephones.
More specifically, the present invention provides an answering machine apparatus as aforesaid which provides a signal to the telephone line when the answering machine apparatus receives/records a message and when the user places any of the telephones coupled to the telephone line in an off-hook state so as to provide an indication to the user that the message has been received and/or recorded.
A further object of the present invention is to provide an answering machine apparatus as aforesaid in which the signal indicative of a received/recorded message is terminated (i) within a predetermined time after the user places the respective telephone in an off-hook state or (ii) after the user reproduces or plays back the recorded message or messages.
According to an aspect of the present invention, an answering machine apparatus adapted for use in a system having a telephone for receiving and/or recording messages is provided. The apparatus comprises a circuit for generating a trigger signal when a message has been received and/or recorded; and an audio mixer receiving an alarm signal and a telephone signal for combining the alarm signal with the telephone signal in response to the trigger signal and for supplying the combined signal to a telephone line so as to provide an indication to an operator that the message has been received and/or recorded when the operator activates the telephone.
Other objects, features and advantages according to the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of illustrated embodiments when read in connection with the accompanying drawing.
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Van Ryzin John M.
Frommer William S.
Frommer & Lawrence & Haug LLP
Smid Dennis M.
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